Kaylyn Wilson didn’t care what the halftime deficit was, she was confident that her team was going to come back.
Trailing by 14 at halftime, it didn’t look good for the Columbus High School girls’ basketball team. The offense wasn’t coming and the Columbus defense couldn’t slow down the Ridgeway (Tenn.) High offensive attack.
But the Lady Falcons made adjustments at halftime and they showed in the second half as the they walked away with a 49-45 win Saturday night in the Joe Horne Columbus Christmas Classic at the Columbus High gym.
“We didn’t put down our heads, we knew we were going to come back,” Wilson said. “We worked hard as a team to come back.”
Leading 44-43, Wilson, a senior, stepped up and willed her team to the victory with a steal, a layup and a free three on the and-one attempt. Ridgeway went to inbound the ball and instead of running back to the opposite end, Wilson stayed on her offensive end and came away with the steal.
She took the ball immediately to the basket and laid it in as she was fouled. When her feet hit the floor she let out a loud scream, but composed herself enough to make the free throw and give the Lady Falcons (8-3) a 47-43 lead with 2 minutes, 8 seconds remaining.
“We’ve always been told to play in the air and when she threw the ball up I jumped up,” Wilson said. “I knew she was going to foul, so I concentrated on getting the foul in the air. It felt good.”
Wilson scored 11 points, while Zaria Jenkins had a team-high 15 points and Hannah White scored 13 points.
The Lady Falcons trailed 31-17 at halftime after being outscored 14-9 in the opening quarter. Columbus outscored Ridgeway 14-8 in the third quarter to cut the lead to 39-31. After Takesia Barnes knocked down two free throws to stretch the Lady Roadrunner’s lead to 10 at 41-31, the Lady Falcons went on a 13-1 run to take a 44-42 lead. Wilson made a jump shot to tie things at 42 with 3:55 left and White knocked down a jump shot to give Columbus a 44-42 lead, a lead it never surrendered, with 3:20 left.
“I felt good, especially after we came out in the third quarter and made a big dent,” Columbus coach Yvonne Hairston said. “I saw they got a little rattled and we started putting a little bit more pressure on their ball handlers, so we knew we had a chance.
“We just have to believe that we have to keep fighting. (I learned that) they don’t give up. They just keep playing and keep fighting.”
Elizabeth Dixon led the Lady Roadrunners with 23 points, but after scoring 18 in the first half she scored five in the second half. Hairston’s main message at halftime was slowing down Dixon.
“We felt like the guards were a little weak so we had to put a lot of pressure on the guards, go ahead and get up on the guards and then force them to make some decisions with the ball,” Hairston said. “We knew that if (Dixon) got her hands on the ball she stood a great chance of scoring so we tried as much as we could to limit her hands on the ball and we did.”
The performance gave Hairston a good idea of where her team stands. It gave her players some confidence.
“Now we know that we can beat somebody. Now we know coming back from a 14-point deficit is doable for our team and it makes us feel a lot better that we have before,” Wilson said.
Columbus opened the tournament with a 40-34 win over Egypt Raleigh (Tennessee) Friday night. Jenkins had 15 points, while White had nine points.
n West Lowndes boys 60, Noxubee County 58: Marcus Farmer scored 17 points as the Panthers overcame the Tigers.
West Lowndes also got 14 points from Devon Chandler.
The Panthers trailed 31-21 at halftime, but outscored the Tigers 39-27 in the second half.
Jaquvius Jones led the Tigers with 23 points, while D’Antonio Deloach added 15 and Zeetrious Rice chipped in 10.
n New Hope girls 66, Kemper County 45: Alex Melton scored 25 points and the Lady Trojans downed the Lady Wildcats.
Lanoria Abrams added 12 points for New Hope.
n Noxubee County girls 52, West Lowndes 31: Jacambrioyoua Cheatham scored 15 points, while Stasha Mitchell scored 14 to help the Lady Tigers defeat the Lady Panthers.
Shynice Watt scored 12 points to lead the Lady Panthers.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Ben Wait on Twitter @bcwait
Ben Wait reports on Mississippi State University sports for The Dispatch.